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Mallorca Challenge: Arnaud de Lie wins Trofeo Palma bunch sprint

Young Belgian storms to sprint victory for first win since stepping up from Lotto-Soudal devo squad this winter.

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Arnaud de Lie scored Lotto-Soudal’s second win of the season at the Trofeo Playa de Palma-Palma on Sunday.

De Lie won a crowded bunch sprint to claim the biggest victory of his young career after stepping up from the Lotto-Soudal development team this winter.

The 19-year-old beat Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE Emirates) and Sasha Weemaes (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) in a hotly contested charge for the line.

After being touted as “the next big thing” of Belgian cycling with his stellar season at U23 level last year, de Lie now heads into a busy spring classics schedule including  Kuurne Brussel Kuurne, Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders.

“I am lost for words, it is just unbelievable to take my first pro victory during my third race as a professional cyclist,” he said. “The team believed in my chances today. It didn’t cause stress, but I obviously wanted to do the best I could … During the sprint, I chose the right wheels I suppose and I could take my first pro victory.” 

Lotto-Soudal is now on two wins for the season after Tim Wellens won the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana on Friday.

 

The five-race Mallorca Challenge series closed with Sunday’s sprinter-friendly race into Mallorcan capital city, Palma.

A four-rider break went away early and was allowed a lot of room ahead of the anticipated group gallop in the city center.

The bunch allowed the quartet around four minutes through the bumpy opening 100km before the sprinter teams got to work at the front.

The escapees were reeled in over the Coll de sa Creu before Euskaltel-Euskadi began hammering on the front.

Jokin Murguialday (Caja Rural-Seguros) and Xabier Isasa (Euskaltel-Euskadi) were among a handful of riders that tried darting out of the bunch in the flat final 20km, and the duo was still out front in the final drag into the coastal city of Palma.

Murguialday and Isasa were inevitably caught inside the final 5km as UAE Emirates and Bora-Hansgrohe pulled hard for the bunch sprint.

A crash in the bunch caused a brief ripple of chaos before all the sprint teams came back together at the front and de Lie kicked out of the mayhem of a frenetic finish for the first win of his senior career.